Monday, April 24, 2006

#7: Who Proofreads Your Stuff?

When I'm finishing up a grant I can't find my typos, misspellings, or grammar errors. I see words that aren't there and miss words that fail the spellchecker. My punctuation deteriorates into scattered dashes and dots.

I never was much good at grammar. And my spelling -- well, some people find it entertaining.

So before I put an application to bed it's time for someone else to take a look.

I always ask my team to read the grant for content and clarity, but it's rare that they're any good at proofreading. But when someone shows a penchant for editing, I ask them to do a careful reading for me.

One person is good; two is better.

Now I have a handful of people I ask to proofread for me. Some, like Candace, enjoy doing it and will squeeze me in whenever I need them. My errors jump out at her. And its a break from her usual people-problems work.

If you don't have a sharp reader you might want to try a service like They're professional, painless, and fast.

They also publish a neat weekly newsletter that focuses on one grammar tip a week. I read it religiously.

It's brief (takes about three minutes to read) and entertaining (can you imagine entertaining grammar?). And I find that these tidbits tend to stick in my mind as I write.

So who's proofing your work? Tip #7 - find someone. Don't do it yourself., Inc.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

#6: Survey your clients -- how are you doing?

I once had a new client tell me I was the first grantwriter who hadn't yelled at her and lost my cool at some point during the process. She wanted me to know she really appreciated it, and she's become a regular customer.

While clients won't use a grantwriter who can't bring in the awards, they'll also shy away from one that is tempermental, disorganized or difficult to deal with. But when the deadline is staring us in the face, we grantwriters don't always know we're being difficult. We're just getting the job done.

So I've found it's wise to ask for feedback from my clients.

About once a quarter I put together a simple on-line survey asking them to rate my service and comment on what they like and what can be improved. (I use -- it's free for surveys under 100 responses.) Sometimes I get surprised. It's always instructive. And when the comments are positive, it feels really good.

So don't be shy. Ask. And don't just ask the boss. Whether you freelance or have a position on staff, it's a good habit to periodically survey all the people who work with you preparing applications and proposals.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Resource # 5: Checking the Latest Research

Foundation Center - Research Studies - Regional Trends

I always want to know the latest research published on my topic before I start writing an application. It helps inform the proposal - everything from the field's buzz words to the design of the program.

The Foundation Center's PubHub is a good place to start that research. It's a repository of reports created with foundation money, so you know the content reflects funders' agenda. You can search by subject, keyword, publisher, foundation - and a mix of all of these.

Happy reading.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

#4 ReadPlease

ReadPlease - Downloads - Text-to-speech software that lets your computer talk

When you write a grant you are having a conversation with the evaluators. You want to talk with them, not write at them. It's easy, but disastrous, to fall into bureaucrat-speak.

I find that the best way to check myself is to have someone else read my copy outloud. (When I read it I can put the inflection just where I want it to go, so it's not a real test.)

Unfortunately, I don't always have someone handy who can drop everything to read to me. So I use ReadPlease.

ReadPlease has a free version that does just fine for me. The voice may be flat, but I can hear what is awkward or muddled. Or pompous. It's great for comparing versions, too.

Check it out.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Resource #3 - I'm from the government and I'm... - Get Started

Well, this time it's true. They are here to help us.

If you're interested in Federal grants this is the place to start. You can sign up for their daily email of newly issued RFP's, browse and access RFP's for open requests, and get lost as you wander through a world of government sponsored resources.

This is also the site to start your treacherous journey to on-line grant submission. Did I ever tell you about the time... well, we've all played beat the clock to submit our applications. We'll all trade war stories someday.

I must admit I prefer on-line submissions to handling all that paper. But I'm getting pretty annoyed when we have to do both.

But this, too will pass.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Resource #2: Basecamp

My friend Tom told me about this collaboration software and after two days I don't know how I managed putting together a grant without it. Tom works for a start-up company that has a handful of employees seldom in the same place at the same time. Things change rapidly and everyone needs to be in the loop on decisions. As he described how they use basecamp I realized its value to me.

Putting together a grant requires input from a team of people, all busy with their real jobs. And when the grant is for a coalition...well, you know how complex the communication becomes. Keeping track of who's providing what and making sure they know when you need it. Keeping everyone apprised of the program changes (oh, no, that component got dropped 3 days ago. The budget wouldn't stretch that far.)

Well, Basecamp has messages, to-do's, milestones, writeboards for brainstorming and drafting. It's web based so you can access it from anywhere. There's a free version that handles one project at a time. That's what I thought I'd use but I quickly realized the benefit of having several seperate projects going. And my clients have found it simple to use and really seem to appreciate it. (Do any of you want to comment from the client side?)

Take some time to look at it. Read the case studies. Sign up for the free level to try it out. You'll like it, too. It's worth five, maybe even ten, resource entries.

Why 79?

I know. It's rather cheeky of me to name this site 79 Grant Writing Resources You Can't Live Without when I've only listed one so far. The operative words in that sentence are "so far." I've got at least 79. Probably 179. And you probably have that many more to share.

But I can't stop what I'm doing to add all 79 at once. And if I wait, I might never get it done. It will become like the piano lessons I've promised myself I'd take and never have.

So, I thought I'd start. And maybe some of you will find the resources useful. And maybe you'll be inspired to share some of your resources. And day by day the list will grow -- way past 79.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Resource #1: CareerZone

Career Zone is on my mind because I happen to be working on a grant to prepare young people for the world of work. This is a pretty neat site where young people can explore careers that match up with their personal interests. CareerZone

Career Zone can be a useful tool in any youth development program that has a component focusing on work and careers.

Test Post for 79 Grant Writing Resources

I've wanted to start this blog for quite some time. I finally carved out some time this afternoon. It's a break between taxes, a bidders conference, and settling down to write this next grant.

So this post will test all the settings and give me a look at the template.